Jackson Officially Takes Her Seat on SCOTUS Bench

Chief Justice John Roberts wished 52-year-old a 'long and happy career in our common calling'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 30, 2022 11:40 AM CDT
Justice Jackson Makes Debut on Supreme Court Bench
Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson stands outside the Supreme Court with Chief Justice John Roberts, following her formal investiture ceremony at the Supreme Court in Washington on Friday.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson made her first appearance on the Supreme Court bench in a brief courtroom ceremony Friday, three days before the start of the high court's new term. President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and their spouses attended the invitation-only ceremonial investiture for Jackson, the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts wished the 52-year-old Jackson a "long and happy career in our common calling," the traditional welcome for a new justice, per the AP. She took her place at the far end of the bench to Roberts' left, next to Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The justices are seated by seniority.

During the ceremony Jackson also followed the custom of every other new justice since 1972 and sat in a chair that once belonged to John Marshall, who served as chief justice for 34 years in the early 1800s. Marshall also was a slaveholder, perhaps adding a special poignancy to Jackson taking her place in his onetime possession. She is only the third Black justice in the court's history, along with new colleague Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Justice Thurgood Marshall. On Friday, Jackson repeated the oath she took when she formally joined the court in June, just after the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer. Breyer was among a courtroom crowd filled with dignitaries, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Speaker Paul Ryan, a Jackson relative through marriage.

Jackson's parents, daughters, brother, and in-laws, meanwhile, had a front-row seat. Jackson is the first justice appointed by a Democratic president since Justice Elena Kagan joined the court in 2010. Kagan was appointed by former President Barack Obama, who also appointed Justice Sonia Sotomayor in 2009. Jackson was confirmed in April on a 53-47 vote in the Senate, with three Republican senators joining all Democrats to support her. Jackson and Roberts walked down the front steps of the court for photos following the ceremony. They chatted briefly on the court plaza, and when Roberts departed, the justice's husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, joined her. "I'm so proud of you," her husband said as they embraced in front of a gathering of reporters and well-wishers.

(Read more Ketanji Brown Jackson stories.)

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